Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Have you seen some of the ridiculous claims manufacturers put on the side of bottles of so-called sports drinks? These drinks claim that they will rehydrate you for longer, or faster. They’ll make you faster or more focused. One brand even suggests that by drinking their particular product you’ll be lured into trying sky diving, or water skiing or any number of other crazy sports! The one thing that they never claim is that if you drink their product, you’ll never be thirsty again. Indeed, it would just be impossible for such a claim to stand up. If such a product existed the manufacturer would quickly go out of business.
This is just the claim that we find Jesus making in today’s verse. He says that whoever comes to him will never be hungry or thirsty again. When we see people starving around the world, and read about the millions on our planet who don’t have access to clean water, does this claim really stand up?
The kind of bread and water that Jesus offers is not literal, physical food and drink. He is, he tells us, the Bread of Life. The appetite that he will satisfy is not for the food that we might eat and the water that we might drink, but our spiritual cravings. St. Augustine famously spoke of a “God-shaped hole” within all of us. For many, that hole manifests itself as a sense of emptiness, a feeling of lack of purpose, and a striving to find meaning of some kind. But that hole, like a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle, is a very precise shape. There is only one piece that will fit, there is only one thing that will go into that hole. Until the hole is filled, though, we will hunger for that missing piece.
In today’s verse, Jesus says to us, “look, I am that missing piece! The spiritual longing you feel, I will quench. If you follow me, your spiritual hunger and thirst will be satisfied.” If we strive to follow Jesus, we will, spiritually, never hunger or thirst again. As we live out the Christian life, we will discover purpose and meaning that cannot be found anywhere else.
Today, give thanks that Jesus is that missing piece in the puzzle of our lives that fits the God-shaped hole within us all. Give thanks that he alone quenched our spiritual hunger and thirst, and pray that as we strive to follow him more closely, we will feel increasingly satisfied.